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The toppled head of a bronze statue of Tsar Alexander III, Moscow, 1918. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

Russia's Grassroots Revolution

Underneath the sweeping history of the Russian Revolution is another story, one told through the lesser-known people, moments and objects of a world in transformation.

In early 1917, the process of long overdue social and political change in the Russian Empire took the form of a revolution. The collapse of the monarchy in the middle of the First World War was followed by months of social unrest and political crisis, while the ensuing Bolshevik revolution in the autumn of 1917 set Russia on a path of further conflict and radical transformation.

The Russian Revolution took both Russia and the world by storm and its events and consequences continue to shape our vision and understanding of history. The discovery of new facts about the Revolution and new perspectives from which to re-examine and reinterpret them is creating a new discourse. For over 70 years after the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, interpretations of the Revolution and its consequences were determined by the political views of the interpreters. From their first days in power the Bolsheviks tried to control the revolutionary narrative, creating and propagating a canonical view of selected events and eliminating the opportunities for breaking or even adjusting their interpretation. Part of this endeavour was locking away and destroying primary sources, documents and archives. It is not surprising that most of the counter-arguments and views outside the Bolsheviks’ control were also formed within the framework that they set up. 

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